Has the “magic” worn off the Honda HR-V?
Roseville, Calif.- It’s a loaded question, because the new 2023 Honda HR-V was redesigned and emerged without its secret weapon, the unique “magic seat.” For those not in the know, previously the HR-V’s back seat could flip up with ease to accommodate a bike or a tall item on its floor.
OK, the second row wasn’t exactly magical, yet it added an element that other SUVs didn’t possess. It was a gimmick that helped give the subcompact HR-V a clever characteristic. It certainly didn’t hurt sales in 2021 when they reached 137,090, by far the most since the vehicle debuted in 2015.
More significant than abandoning the magic seat is the makeup of the 2023 HR-V. It will no longer be based on the popular Honda Fit hatchback. After a 21-year run, the company decided to discontinue the Fit hatchback in America – there will be no 2023 model.
The HR-V now takes its cues from the larger Civic. Considering the Civic’s historical standing, that’s not a bad vehicle to mimic. Civic sales approached 30 million in July 2022 and it’s the top-selling Honda automobile of all-time.
Because the small SUV now emulates a compact vehicle, it makes sense that the HR-V has grown. Its wheelbase is 1.7 inches longer, giving it more rear legroom. The HR-V is also 9.4 inches longer and 2.6 inches wider. Note that the base price of the standard HR-V has grown as well, reaching an estimated $23,650, an increase of roughly $1,780 over the 2022 model.
Performance and ride
What hasn’t changed is the HR-V’s performance. Its lone engine remains a bit pokey and could have used a turbocharged model as an option. While the engine did gain 17 horsepower and 11 pound-feet of torque, rivals like the Chevrolet Trailblazer, Mazda CX-30, Toyota Corolla Cross and Volkswagen Taos are faster.
The standard front-wheel drive HR-V has the same engine as the Civic, a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder that generates 158 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque. It goes 0-60 mph in 9.8 seconds and the fuel economy is unimpressive for a subcompact SUV (26-32 mpg).
The HR-V provides nice visibility and delivers solid ride quality, a trait that most Hondas possess. It takes turns well, has good overall handling and the braking is solid. Advanced standard driver safety aids include forward collision mitigation, lane departure mitigation and adaptive cruise control.
AT A GLANCE – 2023 HONDA HR-V
- Performance: 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, 158 horsepower
- Mileage estimate: 26-32 mpg
- Price estimate: $23,650 to $28,950
- Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/60,000 miles; roadside assistance: 3 years/35,000; corrosion: 5 years/unlimited
Inside the HR-V
Although it’s one of the roomiest cabins in its class and transports five passengers, only two adults will be comfortable in the second row. By eliminating the magic seat, the cargo area has grown considerably, going from 14.8 cubic feet to 22.4 cubes.
There’s no major progress concerning the interior technology. But the HR-V has a new 7-inch touchscreen interface that is easy to master and the steering wheel controls are also simple to grasp. The Honda SUV offers wireless CarPlay and Android Auto, a wireless charging pad, and three USB charge ports in the front seats.
Improvement is modest and there’s nothing magical regarding the redesign of the 2023 Honda HR-V. Yet it remains a solid subcompact SUV that should continue to have strong sales.